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Planning and development of mining towns in Ghana: an exploration of mining and urban development frameworks and practices
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Ghana has had a long history of mining especially with respect to gold, dating back to the Trans-Saharan Trade where gold precipitated civilisations and was a main commodity of trade among Europeans, merchants and ancient kingdoms. In the 21st century, globalisation coupled with increasing urbanisation has been driving demand for mineral resources and thus the resurging commodity booms. This increases foreign direct investment (FDI) in mining countries like Ghana resulting in not only growth in gross domestic product (GDP) but impacts that transcend macro-level and have direct and indirect impacts on communities in mining regions. The result is often that livelihoods are altered, spin-offs on the local economy emerge and the attendant settlement functions impact on the efficacy of existing mining and development planning and regulatory frameworks. Tarkwa is one of Ghana’s traditional gold mining towns and is the substantive context of the research. The main objectives of the research were: To identify the existing key mining and development planning regulations, gaps present and how these have impacted on the efficacy of governments management practices in responding to consequences of mining-led development. To analyse the urban household’s perceptions of mining impacts on livelihoods, business enterprises and livelihood coping strategies and mechanisms. To assess the implications of these emerging planning and development frameworks and trends for the effective planning and development of mining towns in Ghana The highlights of the findings of the research in relation to the above objectives included: The research revealed that urban households’ perception of mining on their livelihoods was mixed. One of the perceived negative impacts of mining that stuck out from overall responses was scarcity of land for purposes of farming and building. With respect to coping with mining impacts, respondents largely employed a combination of assets to survive the mining environment. However, respondents’ dependence on human capital-that is, their ability to work and generate income underpinned all livelihoods capitals. Over 96 percent of business enterprises, perceived purchasing power of people and related available or potential market as the most positive spin-off from mining yet. The informal economy was dominant in terms of business enterprise ownership with informal trading as the most principal form of business enterprise in the informal economy. The research findings have significant meaning within the broad context of mining-led urban development and with implications for theory, the development and planning for resource-driven settlements (practice) and for further research. For example, with regard to development and planning practice, some glaring challenges include the lack of a proper land management system, “superiority” of some institutions (mine houses)in dealing with the Town and Planning Department and Municipal Assembly, lack of effective collaboration between related institutions, gaps in planning legislations make planning near impossible in Tarkwa. The effect being that Tarkwa is growing (spatially to accommodate businesses and people coming in) but without an effective and responsive development planning system to effectively channel and coordinate this growth so that long term development is sustained. The study concludes and recommends that, there is need for a rethink in the way mining towns are planned for and developed in Ghana and should include: a review of the Minerals and Mining law (Act 703) to engender more rights and protection to the communities, a constant review of concession and other agreements to reflect a constantly changing world order, institutional collaboration for planning and development, and long term planning which synchronises spatial and economic planning to capture advantages of agglomeration in and around the Tarkwa mining region.